A French court dealt a huge blow to high stakes poker player Rick Salomon’s attempt to recover an alleged $2.8 million poker debt owed to him by a wealthy Saudi Arabian arising from a Texas Hold’em game they played on the French Riviera five years ago.
The judge in the case ruled the court cannot enforce the debt as the game in question was a game of chance with no physical skill and exercise involved. The verdict was based on an existing law in France dating back to 1804, which states that the only gaming debts enforceable by the courts are those that involve physical skill and exercise, such as chariot races, foot or horse racing, and tennis.
Case Background
A trial in October heard that Salomon and Raad al-Khereiji were among the participants of a high-stakes Texas Hold’em game at the Tiara Miramar Beach hotel just outside of Cannes in 2014. Khereiji allegedly went on a heavy losing streak, and ended up accruing a massive $2.8 million debt to Salomon, which the Saudi sheikh promised to settle through a lawyer based in Los Angeles. Several other players heard him make the promise, according to Salomon.
However, after several months, the said lawyer got in touch with Salomon to tell him that Khereiji would not be paying the sum as the game was just played for fun without any high stakes involved.
Difficult to Pursue A Gambling Debt in France
During the trial, Salomon’s lawyer Ronald Sokol emphasized that the poker session participated in by Salomon and Khereiji lasted 48 hours, and therefore the requirement of physical skill and exercise was met considering that the players needed to have adequate endurance to play through the game. But this argument wasn’t enough to convince the judge to rule in Salomon’s favor.
Paul-Albert Iweins, Khereiji’s lawyer, told the media shortly after the decision was handed down that he wasn’t surprised at all as the verdict was consistent with French laws. Iweins reiterated that even if indeed his client accrued such a debt, it will still be hard to legally chase someone in France for a gambling debt as there are certain conditions that need to be met.
Salomon Can Still Appeal
The verdict which was handed down earlier this week by the Grasse High Court could mean Rick Salomon may never recover the alleged unpaid winnings, unless he decides to take his claim to the French Supreme Court.
Sokol admitted it was an uphill fight and that he was unsuccessful in properly establishing that the game involved the exercise of the body, and though the 1804 law offers no recourse for them through the French courts, Sokol said they are considering taking the case to the Supreme Court.
Sokol noted two smaller victories achieved by his client — first, the court junked a request for Salomon to pay Khereiji’s legal fees; second, they were allowed by the court to obtain gambling records from Las Vegas which showed that the defendant was indeed a high stakes gambler, spending $34 million over a period of 29 months at Aria’s Ivey Room which has since been renamed Table 1. The minimum bet for the room is $100,000. This makes for essential data should they decide to appeal the decision to the highest court.
Salomon’s Controversial Life
Salomon is widely known in the world of poker as a high-stakes regular, taking part in various super high roller tournaments. His live tournament earnings currently sit at over $9.9 million, according to his Hendon Mob record.
Rick Salomon is also well-known for his relationships with high-profile female celebrities, which included Shannen Doherty, Elizabeth Daily, Paris Hilton, and Pamela Anderson to whom he was married twice. He first tied the knot with Anderson in 2007 which ended in annulment the following year. They remarried in 2014 and divorced in 2015, with Salomon paying Anderson a $1 million settlement.
Salomon’s name also went viral after a 2003 sex tape featuring him and ex-girlfriend Paris Hilton was leaked online, prompting him to file a lawsuit against the Hilton family and the company behind the distribution of the tape. However the following year, Salomon marketed the sex tape himself through an adult film company.

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